Monday, June 26, 2017

Charter Logic

It's old news that NY State tends to give Eva Moskowitz a blank check for whatever. First of all, she doesn't need to follow no stinking rules for pre-K. Reformies make a big thing out of talking about "public charter schools," but the only time they're really public is when they've got their hands in your pockets. Once they have your money, they do whatever they damn please.

There's a whole lot of talk about mayoral control, and why or why not Bill de Blasio deserves it. I don't support mayoral control, as it's been an unmitigated disaster for city students and teachers. For years I attended PEP meetings where entire communities spoke in defense of their schools. Bloomberg's stooges sat there and played with their Blackberries as we wasted our breath. Meanwhile, the shell game of shuffling kids from one building to another and closing the schools they entered continued unabated.

When de Blasio was elected, I thought maybe mayoral control wouldn't be so bad. After all, he ran opposing charter schools. But when he denied the Moskowitz Monster increased space, the reformies brought suitcases of cash to Albany and bought themselves a law that NYC would have to pay rent for charters if it denied them space. So basically, mayoral control was absolute with a reformy mayor but modified when anyone not frothing at the mouth took the office.

In short, who needs it? Why does de Blasio even want it? He and Cuomo can complain about how irresponsible it is to have more democracy in school boards, and UFT leadership can join them in that chorus. But teachers and students are certainly not better off with mayoral control. Without it we may not have seen so many comprehensive high schools dismantled rather than improved. In fact, we wouldn't have seen such a weakening in union as schools were staffed with newbies justifiably afraid to stand up.

Meanwhile, the charters needed to get something. So what does Eva need? Evidently, the way to put children first is to get rid of all those inconvenient teacher certification requirements. Why should Eva's teachers have to bother learning how to write lesson plans when they just have them handed to them and do any damn thing they're told? After all, you're lucky if they last an entire school year, and with the incredible churn this makes for uniformity. Better to have someone following a recipe than actually creating a lesson. That's what you want from a role model for your children, isn't it? As long as they pass the tests?

Here's a fact you won't be reading in any of the NY papers--anyone who can't get a job working for the DOE gets one in a charter. Discontinued? No problem. Suspended without pay from the DOE? We welcome you with open arms. Now I'm not saying that people who are in these circumstances necessarily merit them (having seen seen the DOE go after people for no good reason once or twice) . But isn't it ironic that you read all this crap from Eva's astroturf buddies, "Families for Excellent Schools," about how awful we are, and how the DOE needs more power to get rid of us--yet when they do get rid of us, they're the first ones to grab us up and put us to work?

There is an effort to marginalize our profession. That's why outfits like TFA are happy to grab up Ivy League do-gooders and have them educate the bootless and unhorsed for a few years before they get Real Jobs administering Daddy's hedge fund, or whatever. That's why reformy Belweather, under the guise of helping us, unashamedly attacks our pensions with false claims. And that's a good part of why Moskowitz and her BFFs want to hire less qualified teachers even as they claim to be saving the children from the scourge of unionized career teachers.

The other part, of course, is that they don't want to deal with people full of independent thought. Better to grab them right out of college before they develop a voice. And I guess that's good if we're raising children to be complacent Walmart employees.

I want something better for our children, not only now but also when they grow up. That's why I support union and oppose charter schools. Trump and Obama and Duncan and Gates and all the folks who run schools can talk all day about charters and "choice." But the only choice I want for our kids is the choice to send them to the same kinds of schools to which our leaders send their own kids. I want schools with small class sizes, with ample supplies and decent facilities. I want schools that educate the whole child rather than test prep.

It needs to be about what our kids need, not just whatever Eva wants.
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